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ITC chalks out strategy to scale up packaging business
The Economic Times - 08 Apr 2009

WITH packaging increasingly lending character and personality to a brand, ITC Ltd has chalked out a three-pronged strategy to scale up its packaging business. The company proposes to explore innovations and technologies to cater to the distinctive and innovative packaging requirements of the country’s branded packaged foods and personal care segments.

As FMCG products get more and more branded and aspire to become a brand from a mere commodity, packaging will connote more than just a secure receptacle and convenient container. It will convey brand character, personality and contain a wealth of information about the brand, its size, contents and ingredients. It will also help differentiate a product from the others in the same category. Besides embracing foods, personal care items, matchboxes, agarbattis to lifestyle retailing products, packaging is significant even in case of consumer durable and mobile phone industries.

When contacted by ET, ITC Ltd’s corporate management committee member R Srinivasan said: “To cash in on the growing opportunity, ITC’s packaging business has diversified into flexibles and backward integrated into the manufacture of LDPE (low density polyethylene), CPP (cast polypropylene) and extruded poly. The company is also investing in new lines for microfluting and shoulder boxes in a green factory run on renewable wind energy.”

At present, India’s packaging industry across all materials is estimated at Rs 20,000 crore.

ITC’s paperboards, speciality papers & packaging divisions, which collectively contribute about 15% to its total turnover, have innovated packaging in several ways. At the paperboard stage, it is done through ECF pulping, ozone bleaching and sustainable forestry. At the printing stage, it is carried out with striking design combinations and decorative effects and at the packaging stage, the work is completed through innovative styles, formats, shapes, micro-flutes and shoulder boxes.

Elaborating, Mr Srinivasan said: “Our divisions are constantly adopting new technologies. Investments in R&D at the plantations stage have reduced gestation to four years from seven years. This gestation is targeted to reduce further with some excellent scientists and agronomists at work.”

“Slow and steady movement to greater product awareness, branding and better retailing formats follows an evolution from ‘loose’ product sales to branded & packaged products with greater information to consumers about choices, ingredients and precautions. Customers today demand variety and change — sometimes desiring uniformity, sometimes dazzling variety, utilitarian, convenience, or even dual usage etc. All this drives changes in packaging, materials, colours, decorative effects, formats, shapes and sizes,” he added.

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